WHAM! BIFF! BOP! That's the sound of Marvel Studios raining haymakers on anyone else releasing a superhero film this year (I'm looking at you, "Green Lantern") as they continue to release new stills from their double-header this summer, each one further cementing just how different their two offerings this year really are.

For example, check out Thor in the image at the head of this article.  My favorite thing about the "Thor" story is the idea that he is a God who must be humbled.  That's really not your standard superhero story.  Here, his arrogance in the film's first act leads to the destruction of an entire planet and ignites a war with the Frost Giants, and that hubris of his is what draws Odin's wrath down on him, particularly when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) refuses to apologize to his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins).  That image of Hemsworth in full rant is the angry Thor I was hoping for in the film, and it looks like they're going to treat the character right.  I'm mystified by the people who are beating this one up, sight unseen.  Maybe it helps that I've seen more than has been released so far, so that context allows me to see how some of these images fit together.

Or maybe I'm just a "Make Mine Marvel" kind of guy.

I'll admit it... for me, DC has always been "that company that owns Batman," whereas I love the Marvel Universe in general.  It's an attitude that the comics had when I was growing up that just appealed to me in a very direct way.  There's a more human, street-level sensibility to Marvel, and even when they get fantastic and cosmic, they are always grounded in very compelling and recognizable human emotion.

That "Captain America" photo is even better than the one Entertainment Weekly released over the weekend.  For one thing, we can see the entire costume head to toe, and in this one, he's actually running, in action, and the suit looks great.  I'm convinced that they're doing everything right on a film that I was actively dreading, and at this point, I really want to see what Joe Johnston (the one thing that still makes me nervous) has done with "Captain America: The First Avenger."

Here's Cap in all his glory:

 

 

All of this, of course, is part of the path to next year's "The Avengers," and from where I sit, it looks like they're well on their way.

"Thor" will descend from Asgard on May 6, 2011, while "Captain America: The First Avenger" hits the battlefront on July 22, 2011.